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Parliament of Zimbabwe exposed

22 Jul 2019 at 10:12hrs | Views
The constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe provides for a robust and effective legislative arm of government, which provides oversight to the executive. Recent events have exposed Parliament as weak and inept. Jacob  "Scania" Mudenda is presiding over the worst parliament ever since Zimbabwe got its independence. Parliament is not serving the people neither is it effectively playing its role on national issues. Jacob Mudenda and his crew of administrators have failed to make parliament robust and effective. MPs play truant and still get the benefit of luxury cars, hotel accommodation and allowances at the expense of our democracy, and good governance.

The executive arm of government has made serious blunders which are in breach of legislation yet our Parliament and the incompetent speaker have not lifted a finger to question nor challenge the decisions of the executive as per their constitutional mandate.

Currency decisions

The executive woke up one day and decided to abolish the multi currency system which had come into effect through an act of parliament. The Minister of Finance single handedly trampled on the sanctity of the legislature and did so without question from the legislature. This type of action and lack of response from parliament contributes immensely to the lack of investor confidence in our systems. Jacob "Scania" Mudenda was probably napping somewhere in the leafy suburbs of Borrowdale and could not be bothered by the move. MPs were very quiet on the matter and a few did raise the issue without any tangibles.

How will investors trust that their money is safe if the executive can make a decision without parliament approval and override an act of parliament without consequences? Jacob Mudenda as the speaker of Parliament should pull up his socks and sure that parliament is able to play its role without fear or favour.

Grain Instrument
The Minister of Agriculture dropped a bombshell and unilaterally decided to ban and restrict the trade in grain. This decision goes against all free market principles, it creates a monopoly and adversely affects prices and availability of grain. Parliament turned a blind eye to this move and again the executive did as it pleases without an iota of oversight from parliament.

Citizens have to approach the courts to seek redress over these issues which should have been addressed by Parliament. The legislative arm of government is failing the citizens and Zimbabwe is in this state because parliament is not doing its job, the speaker of Parliament is sleeping on duty, maybe he needs to borrow a trick or two from Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Baleka Mbete and other renowned speakers who have made democracy work.

Command Agriculture
The nation is yet again faced with a very serious issue which in a normal democracy would see people resign and others being jailed. $3 billion unaccounted for under the Command Agriculture project to which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is the patron. Parliament needs to rise to the occasion, get to the bottom of this and demand remedial action.

Had this happened in South Africa, some MPs would have gone to open a criminal case against the government. We wait to see if Parliament will take the command Agriculture issue seriously and if at all any action will be taken.

Speaker Jacob Mudenda needs to show leadership, he needs to assert his authority as speaker of parliament and maybe Zimbabwe will become a functional democracy that can attract investor confidence.

The nation has an Auditor General's report which has grounds for several arrests and sackings yet parliament remains quiet on the issue.

The ZIFA AFCON saga and the Cricket debacle deserve a parliamentary enquiry yet people like Omega Sibanda who is MP and very knowledgeable on sports remain quiet. What are our MPs doing? Who should hold them to account? When will Zimbabwe have a robust parliament which can challenge the executive on bad decisions?

Non-existent MPs

The major problem with parliament is that there are several non-existent MPs. If you look at the Hansard you will see the likes of Themba Mliswa, Dexter Nduna, Joseph Chinotimba, the MP for Shamva North and a few others who contribute meaningfully to debates.

Several MPs do not even show up in the house, let alone make any contributions. The chief whips of the two major political parties ZANU PF and MDC do not show up and they barely contribute to the debate. If the Chief whips are not performing how will they whip other MPs into line?

Zimbabwe deserves better.

Wednesdays most cabinet Ministers do not show up to answer questions. They normally leave that for clueless deputies who struggle to answer questions and provide information to MPs who are asking questions on behalf of the electorate.

The Minister of Information as government spokesperson must always be in parliament for questions and should be able to field questions on behalf of absent cabinet colleagues, yet she is barely in parliament. This needs to be addressed, and if Jacob Mudenda doesn't see the need to address these issues then Emmerson Mnangagwa needs to show leadership because it is a reflection on his government and its functionality or lack thereof.

MDC, on the other hand, needs to be strategic, present and effective in parliament. The MDC should learn from Mmusi Maimane and the DA of South Africa, or the Democrats of America. Parliamentary bench warmers do not get anything done and we will not progress as a nation as long as we have a docile parliament.

Jacob Mudenda, Pupurai Togarepi and Innocent Gonese need to step up their game and make our legislative arm a functional and effective arm of our constitutional democracy.

Nicholas Ncube is a researcher and blogger based in Ontario Canada

Source - Nicholas Ncube
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